Milestone: Integrity – and a Sense of Place

Why is the wrong model for the Times-Picayune

Last month, news broke that owners of the New Orleans Times-Picayune are planning a major restructuring of that publication. The message arrived in Ann Arbor with an eerie familiarity. The same folks owned the former Ann Arbor News, a newspaper they closed in order to create a new company called

A place is more than a mark on a map.

A place is more than a mark on a map. These marks denote places called Ann Arbor (green), New Orleans (blue) and New York (pink).

The familiar part of the news includes severe staff reductions at the Times-Picayune and a shift in focus to online delivery, cutting back its printed edition to three days a week.

David Carr of the New York Times reported that changes at the Times-Picayune apparently would be modeled after the transformation in Ann Arbor. The Newhouse family – whose media holdings include the publications in Ann Arbor and New Orleans, among dozens of others nationwide – had made Ann Arbor its testbed for this approach in 2009.

Residents of New Orleans have my deepest sympathies.

The decisions about the Times-Picayune are disturbing, even if considered independently of other Newhouse operations. But especially disturbing is the idea that might serve as a model for anything.

The news from New Orleans coincided with an ultimately successful effort by The Ann Arbor Chronicle to push to correct a shockingly flawed analysis related to fire protection that had been originally reported by Ryan Stanton back in May of 2011. Within days of publication last year, Chronicle editor Dave Askins alerted Stanton to the likely source of the factual errors in Stanton’s piece.

Askins correctly analyzed the Ann Arbor fire department’s reports that Stanton had misinterpreted, and soon after that The Chronicle published that analysis. It wasn’t until this week, though, that’s “chief content officer,” Tony Dearing, wrote a column acknowledging the fact that the response times reported by Stanton were inaccurate. But Dearing’s accounting of’s errors is misleading and incomplete – in part because it fails to take responsibility for obvious reporting mistakes, blaming sources instead.

In that respect, Dearing’s column continues a pattern of disingenuous communication by with the community it purports to serve.

I realize there’s a certain etiquette I’m violating in calling out the leadership of another publication in this way. What I hear on a regular basis about the community’s perception of the quality of reporting and editorial oversight at ranges from idle snark to complete outrage. But our Midwestern culture exerts a firm pressure to make nice and get along. And for some community members, a certain fatigue has set in, along with a sense that it’s not worth the energy to rehash these things – it’s time to move on. To some extent I actually agree with that. It would be nice to move on.

But a polite culture and need to look forward do not justify turning away from some real problems with’s basic approach to community service. That’s especially true as the Newhouses roll out the Ann Arbor model in other markets.

What’s more, given the marketing resources of’s New York-based owners, there’s a risk that a funhouse-mirror version of reality will become accepted as accurate, and could inappropriately influence public policy in a way that causes long-term damage to this community. That’s unacceptable.

In this column, I’ll explain how the fire protection saga unfolded, what it reflects about and the state of traditional media, and the importance of being grounded in the community you cover.

Fire Safety: A Story of Flawed Reporting

Before I launch into the fire department response time analysis, let me acknowledge that not every reader will have the stomach for this level of detail. If you’d rather not read about “notify times” and “en route times,” or what it finally took to convince that its initial reporting might have been inaccurate, then skip to the next section.

The story, which Dearing finally acknowledged last week was in error, was written by Ryan Stanton and published in May of last year – just before the Ann Arbor city council considered an annual budget that called for a reduction in firefighter positions. The story served the basic editorial stance of By decreasing fire department budget resources, the Ann Arbor city council was impeding firefighters’ ability to cover the distance between their stations and the scenes of major fires in a timely fashion.

To support that narrative, Stanton presented his readers with travel times for four major fires that he claimed exceeded the national travel time standard of four minutes for a first-arriving company.

Certainly, if a fire department typically records travel times that exceed the national standard, it indicates that the number of staffed fire stations in a geographic area is not sufficient. So the travel time is an appropriate place to focus for an investigative enterprise that seeks to answer the question: Are fire department resources adequate?

To start with a general observation, Stanton’s story was unfortunately vague with respect to its terminology – using “response time” instead of “travel time.” He did not explain explicitly to readers that “response time,” as used throughout his story, was meant specifically to refer to the “travel time” – the time interval from the station to the fire scene. But given the story’s use of the “travel time” standard of four minutes, it’s evident that Stanton’s use of “response time” throughout his piece is, in fact, a reference to travel time.

At a city council meeting, a day after publication of that story, Barnett Jones – who then served as the city’s chief of safety services – publicly called out Stanton for mistakes in the story, including inaccurately-calculated response times. In a scolding email that Stanton subsequently sent to Jones, justifying his story’s report of response times, it’s also clear that the intent of Stanton’s story was to present travel times to readers.

Tony Dearing also admitted in a May 2, 2012 meeting with Chronicle editor Dave Askins that the intent of Stanton’s story was to calculate and present travel times to readers. That’s a point of common ground, actually – the idea that a relevant data point for measuring the adequacy of a fire department’s resources is the “travel time.”

After hearing Jones’ remarks at the May 16, 2011 city council meeting, that same evening Askins gave a cursory review to the records that Stanton used to write his story. He then emailed Stanton, also that same evening, pointing out to Stanton the likely source of his error.

To understand the significance of that emailed message, it’s important first to understand the difference between a time point – like “en route time” or “notify time” – and a time interval, like “travel time.” It’s time points, not intervals, that are recorded in fire department records. To get an interval from the fire department records, you have to do a calculation – in this case, starting from the time point recorded as “arrival time” – the time a fire truck arrived on the scene.

How do you calculate the travel time interval? The plain language of the National Fire Protection Association standards would lead a reader to conclude that it’s the “en route time” that should be subtracted from “arrival time” to calculate “travel time.” But in his email to Jones, Stanton justified the same conclusion in a different way – by citing an unnamed authority from Massachusetts: “I calculated the response times based on how an NFPA representative in Massachusetts told me I should calculate them, which is to clock the 4-minute travel time starting from the first vehicle’s ‘en route’ time.”

And to be fair to Stanton, all other things being equal, you should be able to look at some city’s fire department reports, pick out the “arrival time” and the “en route time,” perform the clock arithmetic and get an accurate travel time. Of course, that assumes the “en route times” in the reports are accurate.

But even at first glance, it’s evident that the Ann Arbor fire department reports show “en route times” that are likely inaccurate. That’s because they’re recorded as identical, down to the second, with another time point recorded as “notify time” – the time the alarm was given.

Ann Arbor Fire Department Report

Ann Arbor fire department report for Sept. 16, 2010 fire reporting, illustrating the identical time point recordings for "notify time" and "en route time."

From the fire department reports, it’s not hard to reach at least a tentative conclusion that the fire department is only interested in the sum of the two intervals, which would be possible to calculate if it’s the “notify time” that’s accurate. That’s what Askins pointed out to Stanton in the email he sent the same evening as the May 16, 2011 council meeting:

In the AAFD reports, the times recorded for “enroute time” and “notify time” are identical. That may be the source of the confusion. I’d guess that “notify time” is accurate and filled in from call-center information, and that “enroute time” is just systematically copied from “notify time” into that slot.

Stanton’s emailed reply to Askins blamed Stanton’s sources:

If that’s the case, their reports are wrong and they’re blaming me? They knew I was calculating response times, and they give me bad data? How unfortunate.

I won’t venture to speculate what the fire department knew about Stanton’s reporting or intentions. But it’s clear that before he wrote the story, Stanton did not ask anyone locally a question that yielded an accurate description of the information contained in Ann Arbor fire department reports. Instead, he asked a question of someone in a place called Massachusetts.

The right question to ask of the local Ann Arbor fire department would have been: Which one of these two time points is accurate, and what is the actual value of the other time point? That way, you could calculate a “turnout time” interval for the fires as well as a “travel time.” The “turnout time” is the interval between the alarm and the start of the travel time interval. That’s an important interval, because it measures how quickly firefighters can get into their gear and onto their trucks. But at their May 2, 2012 meeting, Dearing admitted to Askins that had not attempted to calculate a “turnout time” for any of the fires.

For one of the fires that tried to analyze, the answer was already included in a screen shot taken from the computer-aided dispatch (CAD) screen, which was among the materials provided by AAFD to Stanton for his story. That screenshot showed different times for the CAD analogs of “notify time” and “en route time” – which the AAFD reports systematically show as identical. But Stanton apparently did not incorporate the information from that screen shot into his reporting.

Not long after initial publication of Stanton’s article, corrected the time for the one fire that had included a CAD screen shot. The note of correction, however, claimed it was “based on new information provided to” When Askins confronted Dearing at their May 2, 2012 meeting about the disingenuousness of calling the CAD screen shot “new information,” Dearing insisted that AAFD had provided a new, corrected report to – and that’s correction was based only on that new AAFD report. When Askins pointed out that the corrected “travel time” in Stanton’s story matched exactly the time indicated in the CAD screenshot, Dearing admitted that it did – but he still insisted that the correction was based only on the “new information.”

Calling that a case of “new information” masks Stanton’s failure to notice existing information, and it’s a misleading accounting of the admitted error. But it gets worse, partly because that’s where staff apparently stopped working as reporters. If you got one fire wrong, what about the three others?

It was only after a series of emails and a voicemail to Dearing that he finally agreed recently to meet with Askins. Among the facts that Askins had suggested Dearing review with Stanton was basic geographic information about the fires. In fact, that geographic information was included in a spreadsheet that Askins recently sent directly to Dearing, after publishing a link to it several months earlier as part of two different Chronicle reports. The spreadsheet contains CAD data for all four fires that tried to analyze – data The Chronicle was able to obtain through unofficial channels, because we continued to report on this topic. That CAD data allowed us to have confidence in our published conclusion about the four fires:

The time interval that seemed much longer than it should be (based on national standards), and that provides the greatest opportunity for improvement is the interval between the time a call comes to a station and the time a firetruck starts rolling to the scene (turnout time). That is to say, the other time interval – the travel time from fire station to fire scene – did not look like the place where the AAFD could improve most.

Why did Askins want Dearing to take a look at geography here? It’s not just because a “sense of place” is generally important for journalists serving a community. It’s because when it comes to calculating travel times, it’s an obvious question to ask: What was the distance traveled, and is it plausible that a fire engine would take that long to get there?

Fire scene locations plotted on a map used by Ann Arbor's fire department to model travel times for fire department response. The two fire scenes are significantly inside the green area that indicates a four-minute travel time, but's reporter did not question the accuracy of the travel times he calculated for those fires. He calculated both times inaccurately to be over four minutes. Four minutes is the national standard.

Yet at their meeting, Dearing told Askins that Stanton’s initial reporting had not considered geography.

Dearing also admitted that he himself had up to that point not considered the travel distance – even while claiming that he’d reviewed everything in detail, both with Stanton and with fire chief Chuck Hubbard.

Only when Askins showed Dearing where the fire scenes were on a map in relation to the fire stations did Dearing finally appear to take seriously the possibility that he and Stanton had been wrong about travel times all along.

At their recent meeting, Dearing finally admitted the obvious to Askins – that no, it was not really plausible that a fire truck would take 4 minutes and 9 seconds to travel roughly half a mile in the middle of the night. Also not plausible is that a fire truck would take 6 minutes and 15 seconds to travel roughly 1.1 miles, in the early morning hours when no traffic would be anticipated. Dearing told Askins: “You’ve given me more work to do.” It’s work Askins had already done.

To make any claim of being honest and forthright with his readers, Dearing’s column admitting the errors needed to include the geography of those fire responses – but Dearing’s column is silent on that subject. Including the geography would have made it clear not just that got the travel times wrong, but that the reporter and editor had no one to blame but themselves for getting those times wrong.

Instead, what Dearing’s column offered his readers was the same kind of disingenuous explanation that published with the initial correction of Stanton’s story – that there was “additional information” and that they “were told” something that turned out not to be accurate. From Dearing’s column:

Since first reported last year that the department was struggling to meet response time standards, a great deal of additional information is now available, and based on that information, we owe the community a more complete and accurate analysis of this issue than we have offered to this point. … Our original reporting was based on reports supplied to us by the city, which listed en route times. We were told that en route times represented travel times.

This “additional information” was already available – and that’s why The Chronicle had already published it, starting with the city council meeting report published within days of Stanton’s initial story, followed with later analyses.

An Aside: Some Thoughts About Awards

It’s worth noting that Stanton’s article about fire safety won a first-place award from the Michigan Associated Press for investigative reporting. And yes, I spewed my coffee when I heard about that.

Though the Pulitzers might be the most notable exception, journalism awards can be a rather incestuous affair. For the Michigan Associated Press, for example, only publications that pay to be members of the AP are eligible for the awards.

Michigan AP Award for Best Editorial

A Michigan AP award I won a few years ago. I adorned it with some sort of bone, to make it into a more interesting trophy.

I speak here from my experience as a contest judge during my tenure at the Ann Arbor News. In many contests, submissions are shipped off to judges in another market for review. The judges are typically overworked editors who have scant time to spare on this task.

It’s difficult to get a sense of an article that lands in your lap without context. There might be a cover letter with some explanation provided, but of course those are submitted by the organization hoping to win an award. Frankly, in many cases there’s little to distinguish one entry from another – and I’m sure that was the case for many of the awards that my colleagues and I won while working at The News.

Certainly there’s no time or inclination to vet the award submissions for accuracy, though it’s typically required that any correction made on an article should be noted in the submission materials. So the process relies on the integrity of each publication to be forthright about the quality of its submissions.

In this case, given that Dearing’s column outlining problems with the analysis wasn’t published until well after the awards were handed out, there’s no doubt that the judges were unaware of that full context.

We’ve asked AP’s regional bureau chief if Michigan AP will be reviewing its award to the fire response story, but haven’t received a reply. I’m not holding my breath – is a member, and The Ann Arbor Chronicle is not.

New Model of Doing Business?

I should pause here to note that my criticism of is not based on some self-righteous belief that if a mistake is made it must be because the reporter wasn’t conscientious. It’s not possible to do this job – or any job – without error. Even the most meticulous, conscientious reporter will screw up from time to time. We make our own share of mistakes. Corrected Chronicle errors are easy to spot in the text – because “deleted material” is denoted with red strike-through text and added material is denoted with blue text. The result is not pretty. Believe me, it’s not fun to make such an ostentatious accounting of our mistakes, but we do.’s approach to errors is different. Dearing has simply added a note to the top of Stanton’s article. The errors that remain in the text are apparently left to readers to sort out for themselves.’s approach to correcting Stanton’s story is part of an ongoing pattern – failing to be forthright with the community. It’s a pattern that I’ve noted previously.

In a March 13, 2011 column “History Repeats at,” I described how some news about a round of layoffs at had not been shared with the Ann Arbor community. The layoffs were eventually acknowledged, after a reader posted a question about the dismissals a few days after the fact, on a section of the website called the Community Wall. The response was a two-paragraph comment from Dearing that started off with the corporate-speak of “personnel issues are an internal matter and we don’t discuss them publicly…” He continued by acknowledging that ”I can confirm that we reorganized our newsroom this week to put our focus more squarely on local news coverage.”

As I wrote at the time, his explanation was insulting – who on earth would view cuts to local reporting staff as a way to focus on local news coverage? It was also evocative of a column written by former Ann Arbor News editor Ed Petykiewicz in December 2008, a few months after we launched The Chronicle. In the wake of buyouts at the newspaper and a shrinking staff, Petykiewicz claimed that the newspaper would be focusing more on local content – and just four months later, the announcement came that the News would close. Perhaps Dearing and Petykiewicz were both looking at the world through a common Newhouse/funhouse mirror of reality – I don’t know.

The misrepresentation of basic reality is shown on the business side as well. When the Newhouse family closed the Ann Arbor News in 2009, the narrative relied crucially on the idea that the newly-formed business to replace the News was a “startup” like any other startup. No one in the community really bought that story, so there was no surprise or objection when the executive leadership subsequently accepted an award from the Ann Arbor Ypsilanti Regional Chamber of Commerce, honoring businesses that had been members for several decades.

An early marketing campaign for also tried to highlight longevity. Responding to criticism about the inexperience of their reporting staff – because many of the senior editors and reporters at the Ann Arbor News were not rehired by – the company took out billboards trumpeting the collective experience in journalism of its entire staff, measured by adding up each employee’s years of experience. Since then, turnover has been frequent. Many of the original staff are no longer there, including most of the initial key hires, and the experience level of reporters has continued to drop.

That means even fewer people remain at who have deep connections to the community, with a sense of history and context. But here’s the thing: It’s easier to operate under those conditions when these qualities don’t really matter.

What does matter in the age of “churnalism” is the ability to quickly push out spot news, rewrites of press releases, rewrites of other publication’s articles, “instant analysis” – an oxymoron if there ever was one – and other fodder to drive site traffic, and in turn generate ad revenue.

Highlighting drama and conflict has always been a staple of mainstream media, and provocative, misleading headlines are nothing new. Some readers of like to grouse about the bottom-feeding nature of the comments left on articles, but in many cases the comments seem like simply an amped-up version of the stories themselves. When a publication trades on fomenting artificial controversy, is it really a surprise when the comments written there reflect the community’s lowest common denominator?

That kind of storytelling approach to journalism, which relies on identifying characters in conflict, comes with inherent dangers. In last month’s Chronicle milestone column, Dave Askins laid out the perils of that approach, and contrasted it with The Chronicle’s emphasis on description, analysis and explanation.

There are many problems with storytelling as a way to convey news and information, but chief among them is that the reader must rely on the integrity of the storyteller, because facts don’t play a prominent role. You rely on the writer having a deep understanding of the topic, its history and context – and a strong sense of place. Absent that integrity, all you’re left with is a hollow collection of words.

Implications for Community

So should be the “model” for the future of the New Orleans Times-Picayune? From my perspective and for much of the community, the model isn’t working well in Ann Arbor. I conveyed that sentiment to Steve Myers, managing editor of, for an article he wrote following the Times-Picayune announcement.

Ann Arbor is a community that’s relatively small, relatively wealthy, highly educated, with a high percentage of people who have access to the Internet. For those who don’t, there’s a strong library and school system to help pick up the slack.

These same conditions don’t exist in New Orleans.

A book has been circulating among local business and government leaders called “Economics of Place,” published by the Ann Arbor-based Michigan Municipal League. The ideas in it aren’t new, but they’ve been packaged in a way that seems to resonate with people who are looking to articulate what they like about where they live.

A newspaper – online or printed – can play a crucial role in reflecting and bolstering that sense of place, and in leading the community to an even better version of itself. But it can’t do that with a superficial, false understanding of the community it serves, or by misleading readers.

That’s true in Ann Arbor, in New Orleans – and anywhere else.

Mary Morgan is publisher and co-owner of The Ann Arbor Chronicle. The monthly milestone column, which appears on the second day of each month – the anniversary of The Chronicle’s Sept. 2, 2008 launch – is an opportunity for either the publisher or the editor of The Chronicle to touch base with readers on topics related to this publication.

It’s also a time that we highlight, with gratitude, our local advertisers, and ask readers to consider subscribing voluntarily to The Chronicle to support our work.


  1. June 2, 2012 at 1:16 pm | permalink

    Congratulations on the lucid coverage of the fire response issue. I confess that when I read Dearing’s column (in a quick drive-by scan), I actually thought that it was the original reporting. I’m glad to get this complete story.

  2. By Peggy Daub
    June 2, 2012 at 2:24 pm | permalink

    This should be a case study for journalism courses. It covers the methods of research and ethical responsibility to readers to correct errors that every prospective journalist should know! Nice job.

  3. By Linda Diane Feldt
    June 2, 2012 at 2:59 pm | permalink

    I appreciate your reporting on reporting. I certainly have a lot to learn, and appreciate your thoughtful analysis now and also previously. I’m not sure what the solution is, but talking thoughtfully about the problems is a valuable contribution.

  4. June 2, 2012 at 3:39 pm | permalink


    I had a similar queasy feeling when I heard the changes at the Times-Pacayune were being modeled after I just couldn’t possibly analyze that feeling as exhaustively as the Chronicle.

    One of the things that I truly admire about The Chronicle is its diligence at being comprehensive. I know this does not make a story as easy to read as the narrative model, but it makes it possible to be an informed citizen, which is why the vaunted Founding Fathers saw a Free Press as critical to the success of their democratic experiment.

    The Chronicle’s feat is especially remarkable in that it is also an online newspaper. We have not had enough history and experience with online publications as a society to develop the safeguards of accuracy and integrity. Think of the prototypical dramatic moment in a newsroom movie…the big story hits the newsroom…but the editor needs to verify…and he is running up against the publication deadline. Does he run the story risking inaccuracy or worse…or kill it, knowing he may end up being scooped because he doesn’t have another chance at printing the story for 24 hours.

    That moral quandary does not seem to exist in an online environment. It is all ephemeral…bits and bytes. Run it. There is no paper copy. We can fix it anytime. Best of all, the original copy can just disappear. In the absence of the quandary, we seem to also experience a loss of the morality.

    As Craig Ferguson likes to say, “I read it on the internet, so it must be true”.

    I miss having a physical local paper. But I appreciate the standards the Chronicle lives by. All it needs is a crossword puzzle.

  5. June 2, 2012 at 4:29 pm | permalink

    I miss having a physical paper too, especially the Sunday crosswords. I also liked how the Monday crossword was always super easy and by Saturday, I was left scratching my head and crying.

    This was an excellent article, Mary. Someone’s gotta school them and today, you the teacher!

  6. By Liz Margolis
    June 2, 2012 at 5:25 pm | permalink

    Thanks Mary and Dave, my ongoing professional relationship with the media has been an interesting one! Having sat briefly on the “other side” years ago in radio news, I do believe it gave me an appreciation for good journalism. That, sadly, is not what you can remotely call Professionally I have worked with great reporters, so-so reporters and frankly, reporters who just have no clue. The last of the great reporters at are gone. What we now have are young reporters who need much better guidance by solid editors. But I don’t think that is the goal of the “reporting” claims to do. What is newsworthy?, is my first questions. What tends to do is look for the tabloid story, not the news. Luckily we have Ann Arbor Chronicle to give us the news with accurate facts. While I don’t always agree with what is reported in any publication, as long as it is researched and accurate then it can be proclaimed journalism.

    Currently I am in a conversation with over the use of their sources – most recently 14 year olds who are approached via twitter for an “interview”. Really? Is this journalism? I know social media brings new challenges to reporting but finding your source via tweets with 14 years olds is not good journalism in my book, and frankly crosses the ethical line for me.

    Bring on the tough questions, FOIA information, do what any good journalist needs to do to get the story but don’t expect me to do your research or guide you in the right direction and please, bring a pen to your interview and don’t ask to borrow one of mine.

  7. By Leah Gunn
    June 2, 2012 at 5:38 pm | permalink

    An excellent analysis, Mary. It is a pity that the only physical newspaper delivered daily in Ann Arbor is the New York Times (but it does have those crossword puzzles!).

    The Chronicle is a valuable source for news, and its accuracy in reporting on meetings is awesome. Sometimes, when reading, I wonder if I really was at that meeting.

  8. By Kimberli Cumming
    June 2, 2012 at 8:45 pm | permalink

    As always, my gratitude for the depth, accuracy, insightful and informed analysis, and unbending integrity of the Chronicle’s reporting.

  9. By David Fitzpatrick
    June 2, 2012 at 8:52 pm | permalink

    You obviously are under the misapprehension that sees itself as a news reporting organization. Clearly its first priority is the management of its “discussion” boards, “management” that has become incredibly protective of right-wing ad hominem attacks and of racist, sexist, and homophobic diatribes while, at the same time, censoring those who take those repugnant posters to task. has become a joke.

  10. By Sabra Briere
    June 2, 2012 at 9:47 pm | permalink

    Thank you, Mary and David, for doing more than look at the surface. I’m always grateful — and routinely renew my subscription.


  11. June 2, 2012 at 10:46 pm | permalink

    I think this is an important analysis, but (and?) in it you conflate a few ideas.

    1. Yes, the New Orleans audience is different–less educated, less internet-connected–and so the model is probably not appropriate. (It’s probably not appropriate for us either, but maybe that’s beside the point.) I don’t think Newhouse cares, though. Although we commonly think of news businesses as working for the public interest, if they are for-profit companies, then generally (and with Newhouse, certainly) they are in it for the money.

    2. As you point out, everybody has an error rate. has a lot of young writers, and we can expect people new to both a beat and a community to make more mistakes in general. But to me the biggest fault here lies with the lack of editorial oversight. I know as a writer that good editors make me better. In the case of the fire article you discuss, a good editor would have clarified some of the issues in advance (travel time), and then worked to make corrections. Good editors also help newer writers learn about the community! Sadly, there are very few editors in the lineup. For the most part, I don’t blame the writers–they are under a lot of pressure to produce quickly-written stuff that nobody has edited except themselves, and I think several of them are promising.

    3. For a work project, I recently had to go through several older Ann Arbor News articles from the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s. Although we used to jokingly call it the Snooze, I could really see how much longer, how much more comprehensive, and how much better-edited the articles were.

    So we have an unsatisfactory situation, and I love the Chronicle but you don’t have the resources to provide comprehensive coverage. Neither does WEMU, and WUOM is trying to cover the state. So the question that remains, for me, is–what do we do about this problem?

  12. By Francine Alexander
    June 3, 2012 at 2:09 am | permalink

    Ruth, one part of the solution : let’s give more money to the Chronicle.

  13. June 3, 2012 at 11:36 am | permalink

    I don’t read the Com. If I had a million bucks to endow a reporter’s desk at the Chronicle, I would ask that Bill Treml be hired for the crime desk.

  14. By Rita MItchell
    June 3, 2012 at 3:02 pm | permalink


    Thank you for opening the window on the process of journalism. I appreciate the depth of information and the integrity with which The Chronicle presents it. Clearly, journalism requires a professional approach, attention to details, and understanding of context, as you said. Thank you for taking on the job of providing the community with reliable information, and for caring at the local level.

  15. June 3, 2012 at 4:32 pm | permalink

    Fran: Amen.

  16. By Jim Carty
    June 3, 2012 at 8:39 pm | permalink

    Excellent work as usual, Mary (and Dave, since so much of this story is about his work).

    What’s happening in New Orleans depresses me, but the way Newhouse portrays the .com is simply dishonest. Last week Steven Newhouse told the Wall Street Journal that:

    “ was not only showing gains in digital audience and revenue, but publishing more news stories than had been published in the former Ann Arbor News because, while we reduced staffing considerably, we focused the staffing on people producing content.”

    Any objective analysis of the content produced by the News – even the buyout crippled News produced six months before it was shut down – compared to content produced by the .com would show that statement is incorrect. It’s incorrect even if you included the aggregated “content” produced by the .com that isn’t really content at all, but simply an attempt to gain clicks off another organization’s original work.

    The WSJ line, fwiw: [link]

  17. June 3, 2012 at 9:03 pm | permalink

    It is this high level of integrity and analysis that makes me proud to be associated with Mary Morgan, Dave Askins, and the Ann Arbor Chronicle.

    Likewise, the comments of Liz Margolis — a true pro — are worth a second read, too. She might have the best vantage point of the changing local media landscape of anyone in town.

    Finally, while we’re on it, the New York Times piece on the Times-Picayune quotes both Geoff Larcom and Charles Eisendrath — two journalists well known to local readers — and they both were typically on the money. It is truly a shame that a town as educated as ours no longer has a daily, hard copy newspaper — especially when I believe it could readily support one.

    When people ask me about the future of newspapers, I still revert back to the wonderful quote by the irreplaceable Molly Ivins. When asked how she felt about newspapers dying, she said, “Not as badly as I feel about watching them commit suicide.”

    Amen, sister. Amen.

    -John U. Bacon

  18. June 3, 2012 at 9:13 pm | permalink

    Editor’s note: Ryan Stanton is the staffer whose inaccurate reporting was exposed in this column. We don’t typically annotate reader comments like Stanton’s within a comment itself. However, in this case Stanton’s comment is misleading enough that we felt it’s important to respond in this manner. Stanton’s comment is unitalicized in bold. The Chronicle’s response by Dave Askins is in italics.

    This column is missing some context, including the fact that up until recently Fire Chief Chuck Hubbard stood behind the en route times and arrival times originally used to compute travel times in May 2010 and he still refutes the Chronicle’s analysis/interpretation of the data.

    Note by Askins: I think Stanton’s claim that Hubbard has ever “refuted” The Chronicle’s analysis to anyone is likely false. Hubbard affirmed our analysis in a telephone interview as recently as May 10, an interview Stanton might not be aware of. It’s the Chronicle’s analysis of that data that was used to pressure Stanton’s publication finally to re-examine his reporting and to admit the erroneous times he reported. Stanton offers no convincing support of his claim that Hubbard is refuting The Chronicle’s interpretation of the data. Certainly, Hubbard has not challenged The Chronicle’s analysis to us – either last summer or more recently – but rather has affirmed it. If Hubbard is refuting The Chronicle’s interpretation, then I’m puzzled as to why Dearing wrote an op-ed admitting Stanton’s story was in error. But, of course, the fact that Hubbard has not made an objection to us isn’t necessarily definitive. And Stanton has asked for even more context.

    So, if additional context for Hubbard’s assessment of The Chronicle’s analysis is what Stanton would like, let’s start with last summer. At a meeting in the summer of 2011, attended by Hubbard, then-chief of safety services Barnett Jones, a representative of the HVA and myself, we reviewed the CAD data for the four fires. Based on my own previous reporting on the HVA dispatch center and making reasonable assumptions, I walked the group through some discrepancies that I myself felt were in the CAD data, which in several cases had reasonable explanations. I also checked my understanding of the data labels with that group. In the spreadsheet I created, I included annotations for some of these discrepancies.

    So subsequent reporting by The Chronicle and the spreadsheet itself make clear whenever it’s mentioned that the CAD data were not simply taken at face value. Rather, an attempt was made to factor in the irregularities and to reconcile the CAD data with AAFD reports, as well as with the plain geographic facts. We didn’t just dump the numbers into a spreadsheet and run calculations on whatever timestamp happened to be there. There was also a consensus with that group (which included Hubbard) in the summer of 2011 that the travel times The Chronicle ultimately calculated for the four fires were reasonable and plausible – basically within standard.

    I reviewed all this with Tony Dearing as part of our effort to get Dearing to make the correction. I reviewed it with Dearing because he had also contended that Hubbard had backed the times in Stanton’s story and that Hubbard had pointed to irregularities in the CAD data. After reviewing the above discussion with Dearing, my understanding was that Dearing clearly understood that Hubbard had indicated to The Chronicle that Hubbard was in alignment with the way The Chronicle was interpreting the AAFD fire report data and the CAD data, and that the discrepancies everyone was aware of did not impinge on our basic conclusion. It was also my understanding from my meeting with Dearing that had nothing definitive from Hubbard that really nailed down a specific contention from Hubbard that’s “response times” were accurate when considered as “travel times” – only assertions from Hubbard about whether numbers were “right.”

    That is, when I asked Dearing if they had anything definitive from Hubbard attesting that their computed times for response time were accurate when construed as “travel times,” he could not offer anything that specific. Indeed the email Stanton has produced from Hubbard also doesn’t provide that kind of specific backing for Stanton’s analysis. Certainly there’s a lot of room for miscommunication, as I reviewed with Dearing – if terms aren’t used precisely, you can easily wind up thinking that you’ve confirmed something that you haven’t. It seems readily apparent that Hubbard simply didn’t understand that by “response time” in that May 2011 article meant what Hubbard calls “driving time” and what most folks call “travel time.” If can show definitively that Hubbard ever told them that 4 minutes and 9 seconds was the accurate travel time for a half mile trip, then that would be very interesting. But when I asked Dearing to produce that kind of “backing” for Stanton’s story from Hubbard, Dearing couldn’t do it.

    After reviewing all this with Dearing, I’m surprised to see it presented here by Stanton as if the column were “missing some context.” Indeed, Mary Morgan’s column included the part of the context Stanton claims was missing, at the same level of detail that Dearing’s op-ed did, by quoting Dearing’s op-ed: “We were told that en route times represented travel times.” The difference is that Stanton apparently believes that this context excuses his basic reporting error; in contrast, Morgan used that context to call on to accept responsibility for the reporting error instead of blaming someone else. It’s worth noting in passing that the phrasing used by Dearing in his op-ed is lamentably imprecise. An “en route time” is a time point; a “travel time,” on the other hand, is an interval. If I were told by someone that an “en route times represent travel times,” I would respond: How can a time point represent a time interval? What do you even mean by that?

    In any case, from Stanton’s comment here, it appears to me that Dearing may not have shared all that additional context with Stanton, which I walked through with Dearing and he appeared to understand. Further it’s worth noting that, after communications with Dearing, I had separate phone conversations with Jones and Hubbard, in which I reminded them of the summer 2011 meeting when they expressed agreement with the approach The Chronicle had taken to interpreting the CAD data, which they again affirmed.

    If anything, what Hubbard might object to about the CAD data, beyond the various known discrepancies, is the same thing that I myself would object to – the idea that the RESPOND time recorded in the CAD data is reflective of the exact moment when a fire truck starts rolling – because that time point might be radioed in before firefighters get onto the truck, or after they are a ways down the road, or could have been recorded by the fire dispatcher only several seconds later. But in the the same way, the ON-SCENE time is susceptible to variation – it’s radioed in by the firefighters, and could correspond to a range of actual points along the way. It’s the best data we’ve got. If we want more precise data, the city could easily use the same GPS tracking system on fire engines that is already used for snow plows – it’s what HVA does for its ambulances, so that you can actually replay the path and time on a map for each medical service call.

    So the group of us, including Hubbard, discussed these uncertainties at the summer 2011 meeting – and how The Chronicle took RESPOND as a data point and the ON-SCENE time as a data point, with a clear understanding about the variance those numbers might show, and weighed that against everything else in the CAD reports and the AAFD reports, and computed a travel time for the fires – based on the best information we had. The resultant travel times were such that Hubbard indicated he felt comfortable that they seemed plausible. But the consequence of those plausible “travel times” was that the “turnout times” were clearly over the standard. At that summer 2011 meeting, Hubbard was dismissive of the turnout time standard itself – which then was one minute from alarm to getting the truck rolling. He felt it was probably not set by anyone who’d ever ridden on a fire truck. Interestingly, the national standard has since been changed to 80 seconds.

    It’s worth noting that it’s not just those four fires that indicate “turnout time” is an area where AAFD could improve – the ICMA report commissioned by the city also reached that conclusion. I don’t think this is any kind of indictment of firefighter performance. I think it just means it might be worth, say, remodeling fire station buildings if that will give better turnout times, or equipping stations with various automatic door openings or working on clearer communication between HVA fire-dispatchers and AAFD – which are suggestion in the ICMA report. If we shave 15 seconds off average turnout time, that’s 15 seconds off arrival at every fire, no matter where our stations are located and what their number is. So it seems like low-hanging fruit – as opposed to the higher fruit of changing from five to three stations.

    So more recently, with the community planning for a possible reorganization of stations – using three instead of five stations – based in part on on travel times, I made an effort to get the city of Ann Arbor to pressure to correct Stanton’s story. I wanted the discussion to be based on accurate information. And the basic picture is this: Actual travel times for one truck from station to fire scene seem to be within the four-minute standard – based on the four fires that initially misanalysed, and the comprehensive ICMA study. The number of firefighters on the trucks is a different story.

    I got the city of Ann Arbor involved by pointing out to city administrator Steve Powers the implications of the erroneously-reported travel times by for the maps that the city was using to plan its future station staffing: If the times had reported were accurate, then the maps would be completely suspect – because’s story would be showing actual travel times that diverge significantly from the reachable areas indicated on the city’s maps.

    In response to that effort, Chief Hubbard gave me a call a few weeks ago and offered to talk about the response times in the article. Thirty seconds into that conversation it was clear to me that nobody at had asked the chief the key question: Is this actually how long it took this fire engine to get from the station to the fire scene? Because when I asked him that question, and reminded him of the summer 2011 meeting, he said, Well, no of course not, that’s the time from the alarm to the fire scene, not just the “driving time.” Hubbard said he’d give a call to explain that. Only then did Dearing finally admit the error in Stanton’s reporting. It makes me wonder what Dearing and Stanton and Hubbard could have possibly been talking about during all this time they purport to have been going over this data in detail.

    As Mary Morgan’s column points out, the missing element in Stanton’s initial reporting and Dearing’s attempt to check it, was a grounding in place, a sense of geography. If Stanton or Dearing had looked at a map, they might have had a shot at asking the right question. If there was “some context missing” as Stanton puts it, then what was missing was a map.

    From an April 25, 2012, email from Hubbard to me [Stanton]:
    “Ryan after reviewing the data I am sure you have the right numbers, there are several discrepancies in the report the chronicle is looking at. For example the April 23rd fire shows the BC and E-6 having the same time for responding and arrival.”

    Note by Askins: It’s not clear what discrepancy Stanton believes Hubbard might be referring to that is meaningful for the evaluation of travel time for the April 23 fire. For the April 23 fire, The Chronicle’s calculated first-arrival travel time from the spreadsheet was 2 min 37 sec – which was the same “travel time” to which corrected its initial story, after first incorrectly reporting that the travel time was 5 min 37 secs. The April 23 fire is actually an example where’s analysis and ours is now the same, given their correction. I don’t see how this could be taken as the basis of Stanton’s contention that Hubbard is refuting anything.

    There certainly are discrepancies in the CAD data discussed above – some of them are annotated in the Chronicle’s spreadsheet. For example: “CAD time for DISPATCH and RESPOND for BC1 likely input when BC1 radioed that he was on scene. (4-sec interval between R11 on-scene, BC1 dispatch, BC1 respond, BC1 on-scene.”

    If Stanton intends to construe these observations of discrepancies in the CAD data – which The Chronicle itself identified and convened a meeting of Hubbard, Jones and HVA to discuss – as meaning that “[Hubbard] still refutes the Chronicle’s analysis/interpretation of the data,” then I think it illustrates why an editor can be useful, even for commenting on another publication’s website. I don’t think Hubbard’s emailed statement is reasonably interpreted as “refuting” anything. Again, as discussed above, Hubbard has not ever challenged any aspect of The Chronicle’s reporting on this topic to us here at The Chronicle. Indeed, he’s affirmed our interpretation in a group meeting from the summer of 2011 as described above, and as recently as a May 10 phone call. If Stanton’s assertion is true – that Hubbard even now refutes our interpretation of the data – then I’m sure we’ll hear from Hubbard now, and if we do, I’ll be happy to sit down with Hubbard and review again everything we discussed back in the summer of 2011 and on May 10.

    Nor can Hubbard’s emailed statement be interpreted on its face as backing Stanton’s analysis, as Stanton claims it does. While Stanton himself apparently interprets Hubbard’s emailed statement that way (“you have the right numbers”) it’s only possible to understand that as validation if we know the question that prompted Hubbard’s statement. If Hubbard perceived that he was being asked if the “response times” in the May 2011 article were accurate for the sum of TWO intervals – turnout time and travel time – then that’s exactly what he would say: “you have the right numbers.”

    But based on my own interviewing of Hubbard, both recently and dating to last year, I think it’s unlikely that Hubbard’s emailed response was made to a good, precisely formulated question, which would have been this: “Do these response times that reported in the May 2011 article reflect the travel time from fire station to fire scene, or rather do they reflect the sum of two intervals – turnout time plus travel time?” If the answer to that question had been, “Yes, Ryan, those are correct numbers for travel times,” then even an average reporter would reply, Well, chief, why did it take a fire truck over four minutes to go half a mile in the middle of the night with no traffic? But if you haven’t done the basic geographic homework to be able to ask that followup question – to get your source to give you an accurate description – then the error is your responsibility.

    And if the chief were to insist that, “Yes, well, that’s what happens sometimes, it takes us over four minutes to drive half a mile in our fire trucks,” then that could become a legitimate award-winning story – AAFD Fire Truck Drives to Fire Scene at 7 mph!! But based on’s admission of error, we know that’s not a true story, of course.

    Here’s how we think of sources at The Chronicle. Sources aren’t used to provide interesting quotes for the characters in “stories.” Sources are a resource for learning how things in the world actually work. If you don’t get accurate information out of a source, it can be for any number of reasons, including: (1) sources lie, (2) sources spin things, (3) sources speak with a lack of precision, (4) sources don’t actually know what they’re talking about, (5) sources misunderstand the question (6) reporters don’t ask the right questions. But ultimately it’s your responsibility as a reporter to get the accurate information. And if you don’t, it’s not the source’s responsibility, it’s yours.

  19. By Trevor
    June 3, 2012 at 11:27 pm | permalink

    Thank you, Mary. Ann Arbor needed this.

  20. June 4, 2012 at 6:57 am | permalink

    Today’s New York Times carries another analysis of this phenomenon (cutting print days) [link] which quotes Geoff Larcom as saying that the Ann Arbor News had 45 newsroom staffers when it closed down, while the current is closer to a couple of dozen. What it doesn’t say is that the cumulative years of experience among those staffers is at apparently even a smaller fraction of the newspaper’s staff.

    The Chronicle is our lifeline. But it can’t substitute in breadth for a publication with a staff of 45.

  21. By Jen Eyer
    June 4, 2012 at 8:12 am | permalink

    Correcting an error of fact once again, Mary. I spoke at length on the Lucy Ann Lance show on 3/12/11 about the reorganization, the day after it happened. When you published your column on 3/13, I provided the link to that segment in a comment, but to this day you have not corrected the error. And this column ignores that fact again. Journalistic integrity, indeed.

  22. By Jen Eyer
    June 4, 2012 at 8:57 am | permalink

    It is also important to note that I spoke on the record to Lucy Ann because *she asked.* Matt Kraner spoke to the Observer about the layoffs because they asked. The Chronicle (and Michigan Radio, for that matter) both wrote about the layoffs, citing rumor and innuendo, without contacting a single person at for comment. Is that journalistic integrity?

  23. By Mary Morgan
    June 4, 2012 at 9:01 am | permalink

    Jen Eyer wrote: “Correcting an error of fact once again, Mary. I spoke at length on the Lucy Ann Lance show on 3/12/11 about the reorganization, the day after it happened. When you published your column on 3/13, I provided the link to that segment in a comment, but to this day you have not corrected the error. And this column ignores that fact again. Journalistic integrity, indeed.”

    At the time of the March 2011 layoffs, Jen Eyer was director of audience engagement at She is now statewide community engagement specialist with the MLive Media Group, of which is a part.

    We started hearing about the layoffs in question on a Thursday, March 10. On Friday, March 11, there was a brief Michigan Radio report on the layoffs. The reader post on’s Community Wall, referenced in my column, was made on Saturday, March 12 – a time stamp of 9:12 a.m. That reader post – titled “Only news on layoffs” – linked to and quoted the Michigan Radio report.

    Eyer’s interview on Lucy Ann Lance’s radio show also took place on Saturday, March 12. I’m not sure when her interview aired that morning, and at this point I can’t find the interview in the archives posted on Lucy Ann Lance’s website.

    To my knowledge – and Eyer’s comment does not refute this – there was not an announcement on itself, other than the comment by Dearing that responded to the Community Wall post, as I’ve noted. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect that communication with readers would happen in the publication itself, with some immediacy. While a conversation on a radio show would be a great supplement, it’s disingenuous to claim you’ve communicated with your audience if you don’t do that communication through your primary vehicle for reaching readers – your own publication. It’s clear we have a difference of opinion about what it means to communicate, but I wouldn’t characterize that as a factual error.

  24. June 4, 2012 at 9:15 am | permalink

    Jen Eyer writes: “I spoke on the record to Lucy Ann because *she asked.* Matt Kraner spoke to the Observer about the layoffs because they asked.”

    Note that Mary Morgan’s point in the op-ed column is that did not push out the news to the community in the digital pages of its own publication. But Eyer makes that same point, but more forcefully – that only talked about it when asked by other publications to do so.

  25. By abc
    June 4, 2012 at 10:01 am | permalink

    “I realize there’s a certain etiquette I’m violating in calling out the leadership of another publication in this way. What I hear on a regular basis about the community’s perception of the quality of reporting and editorial oversight at ranges from idle snark to complete outrage.”

    Mary (and Dave), In my opinion many people who read, and have read, have actually tried to point out to the reporters and editors that their lack of oversight was apparent to the readers and that we would like to see it improved. As a relatively small market I think readers expect a certain ability to offer feedback and ALSO expect that that feedback might actually affect change. I think when people write a comment about information or editing it is a direct personal communication between neighbors; whether you actually know each other or not. After all, any of us could run into these reporters or editors in Sweetwaters or in the aisles of Busch’s.

    I will readily admit that many of those comments are fairly snarky. I might attribute the snarkyness to two observations. (1) The editorial mistake was so blatant, like a headline that did not even closely represent the article’s information which could be easily chalked up to sensationalizing the issue to possibly increase clicks. (2) The reader had offered constructive criticism in the past but was ignored and is reading an article that suffers from the same flaws yet again. Regardless of the level of snark though, I would think that a reporter who is committed to some level of quality would at least heed the critical part of the comment and work to not make the same mistake again. This is not evident at

    When I run into a school board member, or a councilperson, and I want to engage them in matters that they oversee I simply stop them, introduce myself, and then ask them if they have a moment to discuss something that is on my mind. I expect that my comments will be considered thoughtfully; and if they pass that consideration, then maybe they get factored into the mix. I would also expect the same if I wrote a thoughtful and succinct comment to a reporter or editor at my local ‘paper’. However at many constructive comments have been ignored which has caused many, such as myself, to look at it as little as possible and to simply not comment anymore.

    That is one thing (among many) that I very much applaud about what you do here.

    And with respect to ‘calling out the leadership of another publication’, I know that this is hard and I suspect that you struggled mightily with whether you should do it and, if so, how it should be done. I, for one, support your decision and hope that this discussion might improve the quality of journalism in Ann Arbor. All of this is a long way of reiterating Trevor’s comment, “Ann Arbor needed this.”

  26. June 4, 2012 at 10:06 am | permalink

    I am sure that all of this “you’re doing it wrong” media criticism hearkens back to a golden era of competition in journalism, so bully for you all.

    Perhaps instead of throwing up wadded old balls of newsprint at each other you could both get back to focus on accurate attention to details, expressed concisely enough to be grasped.

  27. By Alan Goldsmith
    June 4, 2012 at 10:22 am | permalink

    “Correcting an error of fact once again, Mary. I spoke at length on the Lucy Ann Lance show on 3/12/11 about the reorganization, the day after it happened. When you published your column on 3/13, I provided the link to that segment in a comment, but to this day you have not corrected the error. And this column ignores that fact again. Journalistic integrity, indeed.”

    Lucy Ann Lance? Journalism? You mean running sponsor ads (Meijer) followed by a long interview with a Meijer spokesperson telling the listener how horrible it would be if the chain had to follow proposed nutrition posting requirements, and how the government should stay out of this issue, la la la, and Ms. Lance nodding her head figuratively while the PR spewed her corporate bullet points? Then back to another Meijer commercial? Journalism my foot.

  28. By Alan Goldsmith
    June 4, 2012 at 10:26 am | permalink

    Journalistic integrity? Letting Ms. Lance interview the Mayor for, while she was on the city’s payroll? No bias here…move along. Lol.

  29. By Joan Lowenstein
    June 4, 2012 at 10:33 am | permalink

    I know I am not alone in needing more analysis of some of these complex issues and I think Mary and Dave could do more of that because they’re so knowledgeable. For example, sophisticated experts who study firefighting know that efforts towards prevention are far more valuable than spending money on more trucks and more people to sit in them (often for hours with nothing else to do). All this data is helpful but for years the FD has been collecting crappy data and for years featherbedding organizations like the NFPA have been using the crappy data to make unsubstantiated claims. Then citizens get scared and they out pressure on politicians. The politicians get scared and make unwise decisions. Daily newspapers used to be able to point this stuff out.

  30. By Bob Elton
    June 4, 2012 at 10:34 am | permalink

    This is why the Chronicle is a daily read for me.

  31. By TJ
    June 4, 2012 at 11:00 am | permalink

    One thing strikes me about the aa-dot-com’s repeated claim that “our sources were wrong”. The media frequently call politicians to task for failing to accept responsibility for their actions, for attempting to cover up mistakes, etc. Why won’t Dearing do that – say “we messed up, *we failed* to apply critical thinking to the data, we’ll try to do better in the future.”

    And really Jen, you admit you all announced layoffs on one local radio station. We were newspaper subscribers in March 2011, but even today I couldn’t tell you what station Lance is on – how was that communicating to subscribers?

  32. By Jack Eaton
    June 4, 2012 at 11:08 am | permalink

    On topic:

    Thank you for using accurate information to demonstrate what many of us have suspected about the conversion from the News to the DotCom. I contribute to your enterprise, not because there are enough hours in the day to read everything in the Chronicle, but because of the consistent reliability of what I do read here.

    Off topic:

    I did not see this opinion piece or the comments thereafter as the equivalent of throwing wadded up newsprint. This was an important evaluation of the other news outlet in town. Competition is good!

    I also did not understand Mr. Askin’s reporting on fire response data as supporting the idea that we have too many firefighters. I found his argument to be that we cannot expect to have a good discussion on response times unless we have good data.

    Further, the suggestion that response time standards are an attempt to support staffing “featherbedding” seems agenda-driven. Fires rapidly increase in size and each minute of response time is crucial. National fire response times are meant to allow defensive firefighting and proactive life saving measures. Let’s use good information to discuss how much fire fighting capacity to fund.

  33. By John Floyd
    June 4, 2012 at 12:23 pm | permalink

    Dave and Mary,

    What ever other satisfactions you gain from your work, add this minor miracle to your list: you got Leah Gunn and me to agree on something.

    Leah, whatever other disagreements we have, per your comment here, you go, girl!

    1) What would it take to ramp up The Chron to a staff of, say, 5 full-time reporters/editors?

    2) Could the quality of The Chron withstand an expansion of staff numbers?

    As Mary implied above, the things that make The Chron such a good read for most of us here – an almost exclusive focus on substantive stories, in-depth, exhaustive reporting, writing from more than one angle, rigorous analysis, the integrity to acknowledge errors in fact or analysis, belief in the transformative powers of good journalism, great writing and use of language and the absence of story-telling – are precisely the elements that make it inaccessible for some in our community. As humans, we are hard-wired for story-telling, not for analysis. Compared to story-telling, analysis is an un-natural, swimming-up-stream, act (this is why learning calculus is harder and less fun than, say, learning The Wizard of Oz). To me, this limits The Chron’s ability to morph into a general interest newspaper. If we had to give up the things that we love about it, I’m not sure I would want it to morph into a general interest paper.

    This is really Mary and Dave’s problem, not mine. It’s just that it’s hard not to feel some investment, some ownership, in their paper – that’s how good it is.

    In any case, holding accountable those with hands on the levers of institutions is the only thing that separates self-government from one form or another of slavery. The Chron helps enable self-government.

  34. By Patricia Lesko
    June 4, 2012 at 12:26 pm | permalink

    A2Politico has spent three years mewling and puking about the fact that Mary and Dave “chronicle” the fantastic fibs local politicos routinely tell, and then naive/unwitting readers believe the “chronicle” is “news reporting.” It’s a little naughty not to be forthright about the difference between reporting and chronicling.

    A2P has spent two years documenting’s reporting errors and whoppers.

    It’s almost too perfect, then, that in response to this piece we have Joan Lowenstein weighing with her unsubstantiated claims of “crappy” data, and Leah Gunn crowing about the “excellent analysis.” Analysis of Gunn and Lowenstein’s “support” of Eric Sturgis in the Ward 1 City Council race would be excellent analysis. Alas, Gunn and Lowenstein might not be so complimentary in their comments.

    Stanton’s reply didn’t need editorializing. His analysis was flawed. He posted a comment to try to cover up his mistakes (or at least that’s what the editorializing implies). Who cares? Tony Dearing’s piece was the real story and indicative of the quality of the product he puts out. He has a reputation in the industry as smarmy, if one believes MLive/Gannett/Advance staffers who post to You asked the AP to review the award given to Stanton and Seriously? Awesome! We’ll all be holding our breath.

    This piece, while well-written and well-received, is not the least bit objective. Your site and their site are business competitors. You’re competing for the same advertiser dollars and the same reader dollars. is winning for obvious reasons. It must be maddening won an AP award for a piece that was retracted, kinda, while your site can’t compete for the same awards.

    This was a wonderful treatise on “the importance of being grounded in the community you cover” i.e. the importance of supporting local news, supporting this site. It’s fun reading. There is, however, an unacknowledged breach of etiquette. It has nothing to do with criticizing the leadership of Mary has done that before. The breach of etiquette has to do with not being crystal clear with readers that this is a marketing piece, an attack ad, if you will.

    Go get ‘em, Tiger. I’ll be waiting for the pieces in which you go get the DDA, the Washtenaw County Commissioners and the AAPS, with equal righteous vigor.

  35. By John Floyd
    June 4, 2012 at 12:31 pm | permalink


    Is, “Focus on prevention” a code phrase for “Tear down historic neighborhoods”?

    Just asking.

  36. By Jen Eyer
    June 4, 2012 at 12:32 pm | permalink

    TJ, My point is that we were willing to talk about it with anyone who inquired. Had the Chronicle been interested in actually reporting the story, they could have just contacted us, but they didn’t.

    There were reasons that didn’t initially announce the layoffs, which Tony Dearing articulated in a column that also acknowledged that an earlier announcement would have been better in hindsight.

    Thanks for the discussion.

  37. By Steve Borgsdorf
    June 4, 2012 at 12:44 pm | permalink

    Each time I visit I am underwhelmed anew. Yet I keep going back, reading the drivel, recoiling at the usual array of anonymous commentors, hoping in vain that it has morphed into a real news site. So far no, but I will check again tomorrow. Anyhow lets aim higher than the “Ann Arbor News” which, even in its heyday, could misspell a headline or screw up the facts. (That and a Wall Street Journal-ey editorial page that was always wildly out of touch with the town.)

  38. June 4, 2012 at 1:07 pm | permalink

    Thanks for this exhaustive and persuasive analysis, Mary. As you note, we all make mistakes; the test is how we respond when they’re pointed out. In this, and much else, the Chronicle sets the highest standard.

  39. By John Floyd
    June 4, 2012 at 2:17 pm | permalink

    Ms. Eyer,

    Henry Ford II once admonished, “Never complain, never explain”. By law, is free publish or not publish anything it pleases – about personnel, or any other topic. It is also not required to be accountable to anyone but its owners. Like any other publication, by law it owes our community nothing.

    The mega-points of this piece of writing seem to be that in the opinion of The Chron’s writers:

    1) exhibits a pattern of publishing articles that seem fully consistent with the idea that it owes the community nothing; and

    2) The journalistic standards apparently used by are not great models for other media outlets to follow, if accurate, useful information for the community, and a watchdog function over local government, are the desired outcomes.

    Emerson (Thoreau?) once wrote, “What you are speaks so loudly, that I cannot hear what you say”. This was written about individuals, but I think it applies in this case, as well.

    The body of’s work speaks louder about than any defense of it can (try looking under “Lesko, Pat”). The work of The Chron, too, speaks louder than any defense of it can. The Chron’s opinions (if I have them correctly stated) could be the mere ranting of an uninformed, inarticulate, bicycling, bearded* lunatic fringe, and/or the product of malevolent/diseased minds, consumed by professional jealousy (btw, if so, check out Proverbs 26:4). Or, they could be on to something.

    If believes it has found journalism’s magic formula, go to town. No need to be defensive. On the other hand, if you fear that’s dry rot is being exposed, it’s likely more effective to fix what’s rotted than to explain why it’s not rotted, after all.

    Speaking for myself, while Dave and Mary have earned my respect, they have no Svengali-like hold on my thinking. When they cease to earn my respect, they will cease to influence my thinking. If wants respect, don’t whine for it, get it the old-fashioned way: earn it, too.

    *actually, semi-bearded, on average

  40. June 4, 2012 at 4:24 pm | permalink

    Well, er, it’s great that all you journalistic types are communicating with each other…. 8-)

  41. By Jim Carty
    June 4, 2012 at 8:52 pm | permalink

    @ Jen – How can readers trust any source that won’t tell the truth about itself first? Or will only tell the truth if someone else asks the questions first?

  42. By Tom Gantert
    June 4, 2012 at 10:39 pm | permalink

    Mary Morgan’s article is the most ridiculous piece of self-serving trash I’ve witnessed in my 30 years of journalism.
    Mary, how would you like it if listed all the mistakes you made at the Ann Arbor News (and there were some MAJOR ones) and used that to discredit your news site?
    You can’t be in the newspaper business and not make mistakes. We all have.
    Is the point of this story to say that because Ryan Stanton (who is a solid reporter) made a very technical mistake that New Orleans shouldn’t copy the model of Young reporters make mistakes. Veteran reporters make mistakes. And nobody fights that than people in the news business. Mary, ask Mr. Doug Cowherd how you responded to him when he said you mis-quoted him.
    The bottom line – not only is the story self serving, but I was duped into thinking this really had anything to do with New Orleans and journalism. Because it doesn’t. Absolutely nothing.
    And Jim Carty. Shame on you. You were in the newspaper business long ever to know how rare it is for a newspaper to honestly report on itself. When the LA Times reports on its own mistakes, it wins Pulitzers for it. That’s how rare it is. I worked in Gannett and Advance and neither reported on its own misgivings in my 20 years with both chains.
    When I was at the Lansing State Journal, our executive editor was forced out and told the newsroom and broke down in tears. The article the next day stated the executive editor had decided to pursue other interests by order of the publisher. I’ve worked at five newspapers (including USA Today as a loaner) and never known one to “honestly report” on itself. It just doesn’t happen.
    Mary, on a personal level, I’ve never seen a journalist in my career go to such lengths to discredit a competitor. I’ve never been a fan of the and I’ve listed my reasons why on other websites in town. But they’ve never stooped to something this despicable.

  43. By Tom Brandt
    June 5, 2012 at 8:48 am | permalink

    The .com reporter didn’t make a “very technical mistake”, he fundamentally misunderstood the data he was looking at which resulted in a story that completely misrepresented fire response times in Ann Arbor. The .com ignored several attempts to correct the story and even accepted an award for excellence in journalism for a deeply flawed story. When Askins finally forced the .com to correct itself, the .com tried to offload part of the blame on others even though the blame belonged squarely with itself. Organizations with integrity don’t behave this way.

    This and numerous other badly reported stories have caused me to mistrust most stories on the .com. I simply can’t tell if they are accurate or not. There are other problems with the .com, including bad design and layout, meaningless polls, and thinly-disguised press releases from local business masquerading as real news. Nor does it do the type of in-depth reporting the Chronicle routinely does, or the Ann Arbor News used to do.

    I am glad Mary wrote this article. Ann Arbor is poorly served by, and woe unto New Orleans if the Times-Picayune goes this route.

  44. By Alan Goldsmith
    June 5, 2012 at 12:47 pm | permalink

    Let us know if the Associated Press responds about pulling the award, since the original piece is littered with errors and not deserving of any such honor.

  45. By abc
    June 5, 2012 at 2:12 pm | permalink

    Echoing John Floyd’s quote from Emerson, which I believe is ““What you do speaks so loudly, that I cannot hear what you say”, I just received an email from asking me to take a survey. That email’s title… “Comments. Love ‘em? Hate ‘em? Please take our survey.” Yes, what they do speaks loudly indeed.

    Needless to say, that survey went directly to the trash.

  46. June 5, 2012 at 2:15 pm | permalink

    Nice work Mary and Dave. I don’t know much about the newspaper business but it smells like has left a competitive opening here. It will be interesting to see if our free market system responds.

  47. By Alan Goldsmith
    June 5, 2012 at 2:29 pm | permalink

    “Echoing John Floyd’s quote from Emerson, which I believe is ““What you do speaks so loudly, that I cannot hear what you say””.

    I prefer Ike and Tina Turner: ‘I can’t believe what you say because I see what you do’.

  48. June 5, 2012 at 2:38 pm | permalink

    @John Floyd: “Is, ‘Focus on prevention’ a code phrase for ‘Tear down historic neighborhoods’?”

    I would hope not. Good fire prevention strategies do work, regardless of what kind of architecture you have.

    For example, Massachusetts, with all its very old cities and historic neighborhoods, has the lowest rate of house fires in the U.S.

    And European countries do even better.

  49. By TeacherPatti
    June 5, 2012 at 3:08 pm | permalink

    Upthread, someone said that the .com has taken to defending right wing vitriol and allowing sexist/racist/prejudiced comments to stand. I stopped reading the comments because they made me want to tear out my hair and cry (kinda like those Saturday crossword puzzles :)), so I would like to know more this. What the heck is going on?!

    (Sorry, kind of off topic I guess, but that comment piqued my interest)

  50. By abc
    June 5, 2012 at 3:38 pm | permalink

    @ Ms. Lesko

    Those of us who have been reading The Chronicle regularly know that the 2nd of every month Dave or Mary write a piece that celebrates that the Chronicle is still chronicling. Hence the ‘milestone’ in the title is a reference to an anniversary, which is also specifically stated at the bottom of the article. These milestone pieces were originally moments where D & M reminded readers that it takes money to pull this off and that there was a ‘tip jar’ where people could contribute to the effort if they chose to do so. So the tradition always has been for this piece to be a marketing piece. For the last few years though the milestone pieces have moved away from obviously shaking that tip jar to being more about D & M’s perspective on journalism and operating a news source in the 21st century. So maybe it could have been made clearer but from my perspective, as a regular reader and subscriber, I was expecting this marketing piece to be a marketing piece.

  51. June 5, 2012 at 7:03 pm | permalink

    In response to Tom Gantert’s comment, is the mainsteam media’s dishonesty about reporting on itself the result of:

    1. The fact that they are capitalist sleazeballs?

    2. The fact that mainstream journalism is inherently dishonest?

    3. Other?


  52. By John Floyd
    June 5, 2012 at 9:03 pm | permalink


    Re: “Do” vs. “Be”: Perhaps I memorized the Zen version.

  53. June 5, 2012 at 10:15 pm | permalink

    I have ordered two barrels of yellow pixels and am having one delivered to each of the Chronicle and the Com.

    To do is to be. - Socrates
    To be is to do. - Jean-Paul Sartre
    Do-be-do-be-do. - Frank Sinatra

  54. By Tom
    June 5, 2012 at 11:13 pm | permalink

    “Do be a Do-Bee.” -Miss Nancy, Romper Room

  55. By Rod Johnson
    June 6, 2012 at 10:33 am | permalink

    @ABC: I filled out that survey, but was disappointed because I never actually got to say “hate’em.” The main focus seemed to be on whether commenters should have to authenticate as Real Persons and even publish under their real names, which I’m usually on the fence about, but which may be the only way to stem the tide of ugliness and… dumbness in the comments there.

    @Teacherpatti: I haven’t seen a lot of racism and sexism, actually, and right-wing comments would seem to be within the pale, even if I disagree with them. What I do see that brings the level of discourse way down is knee-jerk snideness–”will it have bike lanes?”-type comments are almost inevitable, as are “we spend money on ‘art’ but not on [your civic bugaboo here]?” Neither of these are exactly high-quality discussion but they are just ubiquitous. But the one that really drives me crazy is “why is this news?”. which seems to be the first comment in half the articles there. I actually thought about starting a blog specifically to call out and make fun of the dumber comments and commenters, but realized it could turn into a 24 hour a day proposition.

  56. By Geoff Larcom
    June 6, 2012 at 10:45 am | permalink

    I talked to the New York Times reporter for about a half hour, and was quoted in remarks some might have seen in Monday’s paper.

    I stand by those assertions. It’s fair to say the is very oriented towards driving traffic, and that a twice-weekly print product that is copy edited out of town and a news-driven website do not convey the broad local flavor that a seven-day-a-week paper once did.

    For one, and I am obviously biased in this regard, there are no local columnists who could offer regular perspective on the town or put a face on the product.

    But here are some of the other thoughts I shared with the NYT reporter:

    - The new funding model seems to preclude hiring many reporters with experience and higher salaries, but various members of the young reporting staff at the work hard and have fine futures. Ryan Stanton has done some solid work covering the city. Police reporter Kyle Feldscher is a true young pro, and has handled various stories with real grace. And so on.

    - I don’t think the entertainment section has lost a beat, either in terms of overall volume or the quality of stuff it produces.

    - The website has continually improved, including its handling of comments and the monitoring of them. A problem remains that many of the folks – major players in town – who would have written a thoughtful letter to the editor now refrain. The comments are offputting to many older readers.

    Yet the visibility of the comments also makes it very easy to offer your side of the story or additional perspective. I do wish that those commenting be forced to identify themselves. Anonymous comments chip away at the credibility of any place that allows them.

    - From my vantage point, Ann Arbor is a very tough place to sell ads. Sure, its level of literacy means lots of readership, but it also means the New York Times flourishes here, as does the Free Press. There is a ton of competition for eyes here. I’d wager that AA has more per capita readers of the NYT than any place between the coasts.

    - I’ve always thought a lot of people understood why the media sea change occurred in Ann Arbor in economic terms, but were frustrated by the lack of community dialogue over how the paper could be saved in some form.

    Could there have been a group to buy it? Could it have changed its model and been funded by in other ways? Pretty far-fetched stuff, but Ann Arbor is a very affluent town that could have come up with some pretty interesting ideas if given the chance to mobilize.

  57. By Jim Zamberlan
    June 6, 2012 at 11:19 am | permalink

    Thank you, Geoff. Clearly passions run high on this subject, and that’s a good thing. While I make my living selling ads (which I realize makes my opinions suspect to some here) I’d like to think that I also don’t pull punches when it comes to discussing the state of the current media environment. Do we get everything right at No. Just like we didn’t at The Ann Arbor News, just like no news organization does. I deeply regret that we don’t publish in print 7 days now as much as anyone, but I dare say that in my role as Classified Advertising Manager at The News I had more of a front row seat to the realities that led to where we are than most observers whether they were inside or outside of the organization, and it was not sustainable. What frustrates me now is the amount of information that has been reported on us in light of the recent developments in New Orleans and Alabama that is just flat-out incorrect. I also must say that I have always considered Mary a friend, and The Chronicle certainly has a right to publish anything it chooses to, but when you aim that flamethrower at a direct competitor for readership and ad dollars people will question your motives, rightly so in my opinion.

  58. By Steve Bean
    June 6, 2012 at 12:13 pm | permalink

    For an inanimate object–a concept–”the money” has us coming and going, doesn’t it? Not only is “it” always “about the money”, “it” always HAS TO BE “about the money”. Integrity, community interest (non-monetary, that is), love and happiness–they can’t be mentioned, alluded to, or even imagined without money poking it’s head up in the background (like Rich Hall’s character–was it on SNL or Fridays?) and tapping us on the shoulder, just to remind us that nothing matters more.

    The day may come (and I intentionally write “may” rather than “might”) when we put money behind us, and news reporting (among other things), while much reduced in scope as a result, finally becomes what we’ve long wished it could be.

  59. By Laura Bien
    June 6, 2012 at 12:41 pm | permalink

    Echoing John Bacon, this column is a good example of why I am proud to be a contributor to Excellent article.

  60. By John Floyd
    June 6, 2012 at 1:14 pm | permalink

    Strikes me as a good thing that local news outlets hold each other accountable. If can catch the Chron doing something underhanded, or in error, or simply not doing their homework, go point it out. The reliability and accuracy of a news organization’s output SHOULD be a basis over which to compete for eyeballs and ad dollars.

    This time, the Chron caught with their pants down. Next time, it might be catching the Chron off guard. The inside baseball about who worked where when, and what they did at a publication that no longer exists, is clearly of interest to the small circle of ex-AA News employees, but not to us eyeballs. We want news that is accurate and useful, and watchdog reporting and editorializing on local government. Whoever does the best job of performing these functions eventually will gain the most eyeballs. Isn’t this how it’s supposed to be?

    Everyone does make mistakes. While we prefer fewer mistakes to more mistakes, the willingness of an organization to acknowledge and fix the mistakes that do happen is inevitably a part of the calculus of what to read, and where to read it. If you never are told where and what the errors are, and what the correct information is, then the only thing you know is that everything you read is suspect. What used to be “standard practice” about fixing errors in the past is no longer relevant. Like so much else it has changed, the internet makes it easier to change news outlets. What organizations used to be able to get away with no longer matters when the competition is a mouse click away. Apparently, folks who are emotionally invested in are upset that it tried to get away with an unseemly past practice, and got caught. Fix the practices, and get back to work.

    I have emotional investment in The Chron, but the day I can’t trust what they run is the day I lose my investment. This isn’t about whether Dave and Mary are nice guys – I don’t have time to check up on their content. Their stuff has to be reliable. So does’s. This isn’t about whether or not Ryan is a good guy (as he seems to me) or whether he has professional promise. Its about, “Can I rely on his stuff, and will he tell us when he goofed, and what the correct info is, or do I have to do my own fact checking?” Everything else is inside baseball.

    Fix the practices, and get back to work.

  61. By Steve Thorpe
    June 6, 2012 at 2:30 pm | permalink

    An earlier commenter sniffled, “Mary, on a personal level, I’ve never seen a journalist in my career go to such lengths to discredit a competitor.” In addition to getting some help with the shaky grammar, the writer needs to get out more. During the “newspaper wars” in Detroit I probably would’ve run over a Free Press reporter if I saw one crossing the street on a dark night. But perhaps the writer never worked for a paper with any competition.

  62. By Alan Goldsmith
    June 6, 2012 at 2:37 pm | permalink

    Interesting newspaper business article in the LA Times: [link]

  63. By Mary Morgan
    June 6, 2012 at 4:00 pm | permalink

    Jim, thanks for your comment. There’s no question that The Chronicle is supported with advertising and subscription dollars – we’re grateful for that, because it allows us to pursue our particular journalistic mission. We don’t have some secret benefactor or personal wealth to support what we do. As one of our readers/subscribers pointed out in an earlier comment, one purpose of these monthly milestone columns is to highlight our work and remind people that yes, we do need financial support. We earn our livelihood off of this publication, and work long hours to do so.

    But I do take issue with the implication that because the column is part of our regular monthly appeal, the merit of the criticism levied against is somehow diluted.

    The argument seems to be that because The Chronicle might compete for readers and advertisers, it necessarily undercuts the merits of any criticism we make of In this case, the undeniable mistake we highlighted was finally admitted by Tony Dearing. Yet he wrote a column that was misleading about the fact that information allowing a timely correction had long been available, and that he had to be essentially corralled into making the admission by The Chronicle. As the comment thread demonstrates, our more general criticism of is supported by some members of the Ann Arbor community who have nothing to gain financially from weighing in.

    Dave Askins and I made the decision to publish my column only after considerable discussion and a recognition that it might be perceived negatively by some members of the community. In fact, we considered the very real possibility that it might actually hurt The Chronicle’s advertising and subscription revenues, but we felt it was worth the risk. What was the actual benefit that we weighed against that risk? It’s a benefit that assumes that no matter what happens in the future, the Newhouse family is never going to give up trying to earn money in the Ann Arbor market. Based on that assumption, we felt that publishing the column might cause staff to pay closer attention to grounding their reporting first in descriptively accurate facts, before trying to tell stories that drive site traffic. If a Newhouse publication is going to be a player in this market, then I’d prefer it’s one that takes seriously the data it reports, especially when it could be used by public officials to make policy decisions. So by publishing the column, we felt it might make Ann Arbor a better place to live, even if The Chronicle doesn’t survive.

    If people still question our motives, I hope at least they acknowledge that there’s a more generous way to think about it.

  64. By Rod Johnson
    June 6, 2012 at 4:16 pm | permalink

    If this article is a “flamethrower,”, it’s the fairest and most thoughtful one I’ve ever seen. Compared to much of the criticism of in its own comments, it’s a love letter.

  65. By Luis Vazquez
    June 7, 2012 at 9:55 am | permalink

    The “some kind of bone” in the photo of Mary Morgan’s award is a vertebra, otherwise known as “spine” or “backbone”. Thanks for taking to task.

    Regarding the comments on, look at how the Detroit News and Freepress are handling their comments – one has to sign in using Facebook, and although some people are able to hide behind some form of anonymity by using a derived name on Facebook, most of the commenters are identified. I think that changes the nature of peoples’ comments, with not as much snarkiness.

  66. By John
    June 10, 2012 at 8:41 pm | permalink

    I feel like a guest late for the June garden party. Bees dance around a table crowded with half-filled glasses, and fading voices echo around a corner of the house. But let me sit a moment and offer a thought.

    In a free society journalism exists because the public needs information. Because of this need, and because a free society opens a space in the public square, journalism is a business. The gutting of the Times-Picayune, like the emergence of, is a business decision. But let’s not pretend that this decision serves the public interest.

    The closing of Louisiana’s great daily newspaper and its replacement with an online palliative–particularly if it proves to be as insipid, uninspiring, and bereft of even modest journalistic accomplishment as its Ann Arbor cousin–is surely being welcomed with cheers and toasts by the political parasites and corporate crooks that long have made Louisiana such astonishingly rich source material for ambitious young journalists. The language loses too. Among the Times-Picayune’s many outstanding journalists was William Faulkner. The paper afforded them time to descend into clubhouses, bars, restaurants, stews, and music halls of the city and to rise again to the empty page to refine their craft and to hold the rascals’ feet to the fire. That’s local reporting and community engagement. Is all lost? Not so. Very good journalists abound. There are many important and exciting experiments to keep journalism closely tethered to its principal mission–to serve the public interest. The Chronicle is one of these. ProPublica is another. There’s a long and growing list. And some of the writing is pretty good. I hope that one or more of these experiments will take over where the Times-Picayune has left off. The news desert here in Michigan, however, makes me less than optimistic.

  67. June 12, 2012 at 2:49 pm | permalink

    Here is an article from the Atlantic that has a similar argument to Mary’s: [link]

  68. By grace singleton
    June 12, 2012 at 7:34 pm | permalink

    I’m just reading this as well & want to say that I so agree with your opinion- I certainly feel that: “fatigue has set in, along with a sense that it’s not worth the energy to rehash these things”

    but I also am VERY worried about the fact that: “there’s a risk that a funhouse-mirror version of reality will become accepted as accurate, and could inappropriately influence public policy in a way that causes long-term damage to this community. That’s unacceptable.”

    thank you to Mary & Dave & everyone at the Chronicle for standing up for our community and having such a strong sense of integrity and pride in the work you do. It is very appreciated in the community.

  69. By Alan Goldsmith
    June 27, 2012 at 5:43 pm | permalink

    “Let us know if the Associated Press responds about pulling the award, since the original piece is littered with errors and not deserving of any such honor.”

    Any word on whether the award was returned yet or if the Associated Press disqualified the article and gave the honor to the next reporter on the nominations list? Just curious.